Five African migrants drowned off Egypt’s northern coastal town of Kafr al-Sheikh on Monday, and 25 others were arrested in a boat reportedly used for smuggling migrants across the Mediterranean Sea.
Citing unnamed Egyptian security sources, Agence France-Presse reported that the five migrants jumped off the boat and drowned in the Mediterranean as Egyptian coastguards raided the vessel, which was said to be destined for Italy.
The twenty-five others onboard, including the owner and crew, were arrested.
The nationalities of the dead have not yet been confirmed, nor have the nationalities of those arrested been disclosed.
Citing Egypt’s Ministry of Health, the state-owned Al-Ahram news portal reported that the bodies of the dead migrants were located on Monday morning on the shore of the small town of Borg Borolos.
In early April, a smuggling boat, with over 200 African migrants aboard, capsized off the coast of Borg Borolos, resulting in at least one fatality, several injuries, and around 200 arrests.
Libya and, to a lesser extent, Egypt, have served as chief transit points for a growing number of African and Asian migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean into southern European countries, escaping war, poverty, unemployment, and other grievances in their home countries.
According to figures published by the United Nations and European Union, nearly 1,800 migrants have drowned at sea since the beginning of 2015.
In 2014, a record 207,000 people crossed the Mediterranean to southern Europe via boats operated by smugglers, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. At least 3,419 are reported to have drowned while attempting to make these voyages last year.